CHICAGO — More than 24,000 families across Illinois were unable to submit applications to the state's new private school scholarship program because the online registration system shut down due to "extreme demand."

Sean Foster, principal at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, said he received a statement from Empower Illinois on Wednesday that said “nearly 30,000 applicants flooded the application system.”

Empower Illinois is one of the organizations overseeing the Tax Credit Scholarship program, which is made available through the Invest in Kids Act.

The act was approved in 2017 and aims to assist families with certain incomes by offering scholarships that cover 50 percent to 100 percent of the average cost to educate a student.

Foster said Thursday that Central Catholic has not been contacted by families held up by the application glitch.

“We’ve done our best to be proactive in communicating with current families about scholarship opportunities,” said Foster.

For the current school year, 47 percent of families qualified for assistance at Central Catholic and "several families" apply for scholarships each year, said Foster.

If there is an increase in families interested in the Invest in Kids program, Foster said the school will know around March.

“It’s a great opportunity to help families have more options and choose what’s best for their child,” he said.

The program is funded through private donations. Donors expect to receive tax credits, an incentive from Illinois that encourages participation.

Empower Illinois said Wednesday that it didn't have an estimate for when applications could be accepted online again.

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